Niko Matawalu’s two-try cameo has fired England and other Rugby World Cup teams a warning as Fiji dispatched Canada 47-18 in a warm-up match at The Stoop stadium in Twickenham.
The scrum-half bossed Fiji’s fluent, potent back line under the shadows of Twickenham on Sunday, 13 days before the Pacific Islanders will look to spoil England’s World Cup party.
Matawalu limped off gingerly just before half-time with a leg injury, but was clearly removed as a precaution and under little panic.
The 26-year-old’s class is underscored by his ability to stand out as Fiji’s biggest threat even in a back line dripping with strike runners and match-winners.
Watching coaches Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell were left in little doubt as to who will pose them the greatest threat when England open their World Cup campaign against Fiji a week on Friday.
Matawalu sparked Fiji’s try glut, his second securing three for Fiji in the first half.
Stade Francais wing Waisea Nayacalevu claimed a brace of his own, with Metuisela Talebula adding a fifth and monster wing Nemani Nadolo slotting a perfect 22 points from the tee.
Canada hit back with tries from Conor Trainor and a late brace from Phil Mackenzie as Fiji tired and fell off the pace.
England open their Pool A account by taking on Fiji at Twickenham on September 18, desperate for a victory to set the tone for their group-of-death battle.
Only two teams can progress to the quarter-finals, leaving powerhouses England, Wales and Australia all fearing an early exit.
Fiji are keen to muscle in on that last-eight argument themselves, and would love nothing more than to shock the hosts at the top of the tournament.
Lancaster and Farrell will come away from The Stoop cemented in the belief that the keys to victory against Fiji will lie wholly in suffocating the Islanders in structure.
Stymie Fiji up front, deny their talent-laden back line any front-foot ball, and England will secure the win they so crave; Allow Matawalu to feed steamroller flyers Nemani Nadolo, Vereniki Goneva and Nayacalevu and England could be in trouble.
Giant Canterbury Crusaders wing Nadolo is among the biggest Test-match specimens.
England wings Jonny May and Anthony Watson boasts bagfuls of guile, but will need all their wits to bring down the 27-year-old in full flight.